I know what you’re thinking. Stupid idea because a) it’ll cost a fortune and b) preteens and upwards could mooch around shops for hours. That’s pretty much right but sometimes you just need to set some rules and go with it, because it can be a way to have some quality time with your kids.
I took my eldest (12) on Friday to Meadowhall. It’s referred to as Meadowhell in our house – we rarely visit because it can make me feel claustrophobic. I prefer the fresh air and a bit of independent shopping which it most definitely isn’t. The thing is when you don’t go somewhere very often it’s a novelty, so seeing as it’s nowhere near Christmas I decided it was our destination for a wander.
The trouble with shopping is the cost comes at you from behind so I find it best to be up front. Can we have “Bubble Tea when we are there?” “No”. Perfectly straightforward. Plus I exchange a few Tesco Clubcard vouchers for lunch in order to have surprise pizza up my sleeve and to offset me sounding unreasonable about the Bubble Tea.
It’s also wise to have a sketchy list of things you actually need to buy to give it some structure, and a chat beforehand about what shops they fancy visiting. Otherwise we could be there literally all day. Our list included a birthday present, a card, and some trumpet oil.
My daughter is not yet a teenager and still likes me (fingers crossed this continues). I made her go in Top Shop with no purpose in mind and the results were entertaining. There was me thinking it would be me being the embarrassing one saying things like “oh good lord look at that” a little too loudly. In actually fact I found myself shushing her as she raced across the shop floor, luminous yellow shorts with massive white buttons in hand, calling “Who on earth would wear these? They’re ridiculous”. Which means another reason for going shopping is sheer entertainment value on both sides.
We do need to be clear though, there are downsides. You will not be able to shop for yourself at all so accept that straight away. You will also spend an inordinate amount of time in Primark. Plus, they will keep asking you for cookies and will probably need the loo when you are nowhere near it one (nothing changes). Finally at some point despite all your planning to only spend a tenner you will probably come out with at least one item you weren’t planning to buy, like a Griffindor jumper.
One last thing I need to add. I said I don’t do this very often so it was a treat. Of course when my youngest found out I went to Meadowhall with my eldest without her and had pizza she felt this was wholly unjust so a mere two days later and I’m going again. My next stop on the internet is to exchange some more Clubcard points. Oh and what with trying to make this a fun day out I still haven’t bought school shoes. That will be three times in a month then. It’s not seeming so much fun anymore…